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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, September 18, 2021
It's The Fox 'News', Stupid! (Or, How a Fake News
Channel Broke America):
'BradCast' 9/17/21
Guest: Kevin Drum; Also: Catastrophic heat; Fires threaten Sequoia's 3,000-yr old giants...
Whitehouse Presses Wray on FBI Whitewash of Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Probe: 'BradCast' 9/16/21
Also: Debunking CA Recall 'fraud' claim; Unvaxxed surging hospital death panels...
'Green News Report' 9/16/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Nicholas adds insult to injury in LA; Biden continues urgent climate action pitch; States hold plastic producers accountable; PLUS: VT latest to sue fossil fuel giants for lies...
Previous GNRs: 9/14/21 - 9/9/21 - Archives...
NEWSOM WINS LANDSLIDE, GOP'S CA RECALL FAILS: 'BradCast' 9/15/21
Guest: The Prospect's Harold Meyerson; Also: Senate's 'Freedom to Vote Act' mandates hand-marked paper ballots for all!...
Repubs Threaten 'War' Over CA Recall and COVID, Dems Threaten Voting Rights for All: 'BradCast' 9/14/21
Elder's fraud lies; Dems' awesome new election bill; More anti-vax RWers 'bite the dust'...
'Green News Report' 9/14/21
Nicholas drowns Gulf Coast; Biden urges Congress to move on climate infrastructure; EPA protects drinking water; PLUS: Another nail in Pebble Mine's coffin...
Last Call Before Perils, Security Dangers of CA Recall Election: 'BradCast' 9/13/21
Also: No, we weren't 'united' after 9/11. My 'Presidential Speech', written 20 years ago this week. Plus: Callers...
Sunday 'Not Forgetting' Toons
PDiddie's latest, memorable collection of the week's best toons...
CA SoS Asks Election Experts to be 'Cheerleaders' for Recall Election Security Procedures: 'BradCast' 9/10/21
Guests: Emily Levy, Jim Soper; Also: GOP freakout over Biden vaccine mandate...
Thanks for the Death Panels, Anti-Vaxxers!:
'BradCast' 9/9/21
Hospitals now rationing healthcare as Delta surges, even among kids (as DeSantis tries to kill them); Better news in AK; Good jobs numbers; DoJ sues TX; More...
'Green News Report' 9/9/21
Biden presses infrastructure resilience after deadly Ida's devastation; Mindy forms and slams FL in mere hours; PLUS: World finally ends use of leaded gas...
'Too Much Hubris': CA Recall Officials Dismiss Experts' Warning After Software Theft: 'BradCast' 9/8/21
Guest: Dr. Duncan Buell; Also: Trump probe in GA; Pillow Guy is really REALLY stupid...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Windham, NH auditor, Prof. Philip B. Stark of UC Berkeley...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2021 7:04pm PT  

In support of his lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him, Donald Trump has been telling anyone who will listen that "thousands and thousands" of ballots have recently been discovered from the 2020 race, including in New Hampshire, where the state's Republican Governor certified his loss to Joe Biden by some 55,000 votes. But something troubling was discovered during a post-election hand-count last November in a small New Hampshire town, revealing that the state's decades-old Diebold optical-scan computer tabulators undercounted some Republican votes and overcounted some for a Democrat on the ballot. Thanks to a real (non-clown show) forensic audit in Windham, NH, which is finally wrapping up, we now know why, as explained in detail on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this article.]

On November 3rd, there were four seats up for grabs for State Representative in Windham, NH. There were eight candidates --- four Republicans and four Democrats --- running for those four seats. The top four vote-getters in the contest would win the seats. On Election Night, according to the computer tabulation, the four Republican candidates swept all four slots. One of the Democrats, Kristi St. Laurent, came in 5th by just 24 votes in the small town where some 10,000 votes were cast. So she asked for and received a hand recount about a week later.

The hand-marked paper ballots cast in Windham were tabulated on Election Night, as they are across most of the Granite State, by decades-old optical-scan devices originally manufactured by the now-defunct Diebold Election Systems, Inc., and long programmed and serviced by a company with a shady background named LHS Associates. The intellectual property of the systems themselves is now owned by the private vendor Dominion Voting Systems, which acquired many of Diebold's assets some years ago.

St. Laurent's requested hand-count, about a week after Election Day last November, discovered that the four Republicans in the State Rep's race each should have received another 300 votes or so, while St. Laurent actually was found to have received about 100 fewer votes than she was credited with in the Election Night computer tally.

So, what happened? How could the numbers have been so wrong? The NH state legislature subsequently adopted a measure to allow for a post-election forensic audit to answer those questions. It was a real audit. A professional one. Very much unlike, in almost every way, the long-running "audit" theater clown show still running in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. This one was run as a fully open and completely transparent public exercise over about three weeks in May, as organized and run by three voting system, cyber-security and post-election auditing experts tapped by the state.

We're joined on today's show by one of those three experts, PHILIP B. STARK, Professor of Statistics and Associate Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also the inventor of the post-election Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, regarded as the gold standard for post-election audits.

While the auditors are still wrapping up a few items before issuing their final report, the weeks of fully transparent recounting of ballots and physical audits of the scanners has yielded what Stark --- and the other auditors, including the legendary Finnish cybersecurity expert Harri Hursti and Mark Lindeman of the non-partisan Verified Voting --- regard as the answer to the mystery of what actually happened.

Via painstaking and extraordinarily well-document public experiments, they determined that folds in absentee ballot papers that went right through the oval next to St. Laurent's name resulted in the scanners incorrectly recording those folds as votes in many instances. That means, that if a voter had voted for all four Republicans on the ballot and the fold went through St. Laurent's "target", the systems may have seen that as an overvote in the State Rep's race and, therefore, wouldn't count any of the votes in that contest. Similarly, if the voter hadn't voted for four candidates and the fold went through the Democrats' oval, she might have picked up a vote that she didn't actually deserve.

"We're confident that we've identified the primary contributors to the mistabulation of the votes in the State Representative contest in Windham," Stark told me. "They are, namely, ballots that were folded through vote targets in contests, including in particular, Kristi St. Laurent's vote target in the State Representative contest."

"That, by itself, is not the only thing going on, because in the experiments that we subsequently did with the folded ballots, we found that there was a great deal of variability across machines and their ability to correctly interpret folds through vote targets, folds through ovals," he explains, noting that another problem discovered was dust on the optical eye of some of the very old scanners. "Maintenance does matter, because just using compressed gas to blow the dust out of the reader on the machine that was performing worst made it perform substantially better."

As Stark details, through experimentation, folding ballots in varying ways and by various means, the auditors were able to replicate the problem. "We have a pretty good understanding of how the ballots came to be folded the way they were folded, which was generally not along the score lines that the printer puts on them to guide where they should be folded. If they'd been folded in the right place, this wouldn't have been an issue."

Stark also explains why human eyes --- as in the hand recount last November --- are generally much better than computers at actually determining voter intent, even in normal cases, because scanners are simply not programmed to read certain types of marks made by voters as actual votes.
v
We also discuss the critiques and even threats from some Trump supporters that the auditors have endured from Trump supporters throughout the official audit, despite the auditors extraordinary, landmark efforts at transparency and public oversight, including answering hundreds of questions both at the audit site and via Twitter throughout the process.

"The complaints seem to be largely based either on a misunderstanding --- whether deliberately or not --- on the things we have said and a lack of understanding of the [Diebold] AccuVote OS [systems]; a lack of how New Hampshire runs its elections or understanding of New Hampshire election law; also, people somehow thinking Twitter is a definitive source of information about the audit, rather than the live [audio and video] feed and the New Hampshire Dept. of Justice's website, where we've been posting all of the evidence as we've accumulated it," Stark responds. "There are some people who are definitely accusing us of fraud, lying, of being on George Soros' payroll, of trying to cover something up."

"There are definitely people who think that Mark, Harri and I were hired to cover something up. I don't know what it is we are supposed to be covering up. The idea that we are not motivated to not find malware, if malware is there, is kind of laughable. It would be a career-making thing for us. We'd like nothing more than to find malware if malware is there! But we're not going to pretend it's there if it isn't."

Of course, Hursti himself has already made his career previously by hacking these very same AccuVote systems, back in 2005, as seen in the climactic finale of HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy and its chilling 2020 follow-up, Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections.

"There was no evidence of malware...And the effect that we've observed is just completely consistent --- every test that I've thought of to throw at it, every thing that we've done --- it really looks like it's the folds. Now, people are saying maybe somebody 'weaponized' the folds and knew exactly how to fold the ballots to take away votes from the Republicans, which is kind of the Wayne's World test: It could happen...and monkeys could fly out of my butt."

Stark also answers questions about how this audit compares to the very very different one ongoing in Maricopa. "The way that they're doing their hand-count is guaranteed to produce an inaccurate count," he charges. "You really need multiplicity and redundancy. You need to reconcile things as they go along. And putting ballots on a Lazy Susan and having them spin around in a hurry is not a way to get an accurate count."

Moreover --- and, of course, this is the only thing the disgraced former President actually cares about --- Stark speaks to whether or not this problem could have possibly affected other races on the ballot, including the Presidential contest.

Also on today's show: A few more thoughts, for now, on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)'s obstruction of safeguarding democracy in the U.S. Senate, and Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report with a whole lot of very disturbing news for the climate, and a longtime, genteel British environmentalist who is no longer pulling his punches on what he describes as the "crime" of climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: OH's million dollar COVID vaccine lottery is working; Millions of parents will soon get monthly checks from Dems' American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2021 7:08pm PT  

There is nothing wrong with citizens --- no matter how partisan or misinformed --- demanding to know for themselves that election results have been accurately recorded and reported. That's true even in cases where they have been blatantly lied to by, say, a disgraced, failed President of the United States. But post-election audits must be done in full public view from top to bottom, with all processes and evidence from the election kept within a transparent, well-documented, secure chain-of-custody at every step. Two ongoing post-election audits from the 2020 election are currently underway. One offers an example of exactly how not to do such a probe, the other one is shaping up to be a model for the nation.

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show follows this summary]...

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's scheme to hold a $1 million lottery each week for the next five weeks for any Buckeye Stater 18 and over who has received at least one COVID vaccine shot, appears to be working. While we've got a few suggestions on how it could have been done more effectively, at least it appears to have slowed and even reversed (for some ages) the state's recent drop-off in the number of folks getting their shots. As it turns out, Ohioans seem to like DeWine's plan to offer federal government-sponsored cash prizes (yes, socialism!) courtesy of the America Rescue Plan in exchange for receiving life-saving inoculation from a deadly disease. More states should consider the same and the federal government oughta just pay people to get their shots! We suspect a crisp $100 bill in exchange for a shot in the arm would do the trick. (By the way, Ohioans need to opt-in for the lottery, at OhioVaxAMillion.com, to be eligible for the prizes!)
  • Another direct benefit for Americans from the American Rescue Plan (Biden's emergency pandemic relief and stimulus bill adopted by Democrats while being VOTED DOWN BY EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN IN CONGRESS), is the expanded child tax credits which will, beginning in July, send monthly checks of $300 per child under 6, and $250 for kids between 6 and 17, to parents making less than $150,000 over the next year. If Americans liked the Democrats' $1,400 individual payments from the ARP, they may love its expanded child tax credits which start this summer. Experts say the payments are likely to help cut child poverty in half this year. Hopefully, Dems will remember to loudly remind Americans of all parties which party it was that made those payments possible, and which party attempted to prevent them. Democrats are not usually very good at that. And hopefully they'll be able to extend those payments through at least 2025 as Biden has proposed in his American Families Plan --- which Republicans also oppose.
  • Then it's back to the clown show "audit" theater in Maricopa County, Arizona, where the county's 2.1 million public ballots from the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial elections last year are being inspected, in secret, by a private company with no experience in elections, voting systems or audits named Cyber Ninjas. Now, it seems, the Ninjas and a number of their allegedly false claims made about the materials turned over to them by the County (as ordered by a state court in response to the Republican-controlled state Senate's mandate) were the final straw for the majority GOP Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and its new Republican County Recorder.

    On Monday, the 5-person Board (4 Rs, 1 D), denounced the audit as a "sham" and a "con," lamenting the "spectacle" that they say "is harming all of us" and turning Arizona into "a laughingstock". The new Republican County Recorder, Steven Richer, now in charge of elections in one of the nation's largest counties, blasted the Ninjas for what he describes as blatantly false claims that election databases were unlawfully deleted and for ensuring attacks on his new staff. The Board also sent a blistering 13-page letter [PDF] to the state Senate's President detailing their anger, frustration and embarrassment, calling for the audit to be ended, while responding to charges they claim to be lies coming out of process. The Maricopa "audit" is now in it's third week in Phoenix, but reportedly nowhere near complete.

  • Meanwhile, by way of a critical contrast, another post-election forensic audit is underway in Windham, New Hampshire, led by actual experts in post-election audits and voting systems. Unlike the evidence-free claims of fraud in AZ, there is reason to be alarmed by the results of a state House of Representatives race in the town of 14,000 people. There, on election night last November, in an 8-person race (4 Ds and 4 Rs) for 4 seats in the state House, all four Republican candidates won. According to the computer tabulations, they were the four top vote-getters for those seats, with the Democratic candidate, Kristi St. Laurent, coming in 5th by just 24 votes.

    Last November, after she requested a hand-count of the town's hand-marked paper ballots --- previously tallied only by 20-year old, easily manipulated, oft-failed Diebold optical scanners --- it was discovered that the 4 Republicans actually received about 300 more votes each than the tabulators had reported on Election Night. And St. Laurent, the hand-tally found, actually received 99 fewer votes than initially credited with. So what explains the discrepancy between the computer count and the hand count? That's what the auditors began to investigate last week in one of the most open, professional, well-documented and transparent such processes I've ever seen in my nearly twenty years on this beat.

    This week, the auditors explained --- via the live streaming audio and video coming out of the audit room, their own Twitter feed, as well as in interviews with local media --- their leading working theory that could explain the numbers seen one way (incorrectly) by the computer scanners and another way (correctly) by the hand-counters last November. Their working theory, if it bears out, would explain the disparity between the two separate tallies last November. We explain that theory today. And, no, unlike our disgraced former President's recent false claims about both Arizona and New Hampshire, the reasonable hypothesis does not involve "massive election fraud" with "thousands and thousands" of newly "found" ballots. It involves the scanners misreading folds on mail-in ballots as votes.

    But, of course, most critically, the side-by-side comparison of the clown show "audit" theater in Maricopa, which the public (and even local officials) are not allowed to fully oversee, versus the methodical, transparent, public process being carried out in Windham, should be an illustrative model for all future such probes. In the case of Windham, we are likely to have an answer to the mystery that everyone can agree with when all is said and done in the next few weeks. In Maricopa, I think its safe to say, little is expected to be settled one way or another after this ill-considered exercise is finally finished...if it ever is.

  • Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as calls grow for increased cybersecurity for the nation's energy infrastructure in the wake of last week's Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack; another pipeline company defies a shutdown order from a state Governor; and the EPA finally shuts down --- at least for now --- a disastrous, toxic mess of an oil refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands...among other American disaster tales hastening our worsening climate crisis...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Former FEC Chair Ann Ravel on FEC Repubs killing 'slam dunk' hush-money conspiracy 'directed' by Trump; Also: Computerized voting and tabulation has allowed my election nightmares to come true...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2021 6:46pm PT  

We've got two lede stories really on today's BradCast. You can decide for yourself which one is the more maddening. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Late last week, the bi-partisan Federal Elections Commission (FEC) announced they were ignoring the advice of their own General Counsel by voting down further investigation of the Stormy Daniels hush-money case payoffs by a former disgraced President. Two Republican appointees voted to kill, two Dem appointees voted to continue the probe (with one Repub recusing and one independent absent for the vote). The way the broken, six-person FEC is structured, no investigations of campaign finance reform violations --- no matter how obvious and blatant, as in this case --- can move forward unless there are four votes to do so.

Here, it's a slam dunk. Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was already found guilty and sent to prison for the criminal campaign finance conspiracy in which he paid off the adult film star to keep quiet about her affair with Trump. The affair took place ten years before the 2016 election. The payments were given to her just days before the election. It was clearly an election related expense, yet the Trump Campaign failed to report it, and Trump himself paid Cohen back for the payouts during his time as President.

Both Cohen and the DoJ stated in Court, before Cohen went to prison, that the payments were part of a criminal conspiracy "directed by" and "for the benefit of" Trump himself.

The explanation of the Republican commissioners on the FEC for killing the probe is ridiculously laughable, as we discuss with our guest today, former FEC Chair ANN RAVEL. She was appointed to the Commission under President Obama in 2013 and served until 2017. She, too, agrees this was a "slam dunk" case against Trump, which serves to highlight how the GOP have permanently "captured" the Commission in order to make certain that Republicans are never held to account for violations of federal campaign finance laws.

"Wanting to do nothing is exactly how the Republican Commissioners have always been able to assure that the Commission doesn't do what it is supposed to do to make elections and the electoral process fair, and to make sure that there is total disclosure of campaign finance activities," Ravel explains. "You're right to say that it's a 'slam dunk' case. In particular, because the [FEC's] General Counsel said [Trump's behavior] was 'knowing and willful', which it clearly was. 'Knowing and willful' is the criminal standard. So that may be an alert to the Justice Department that they need to now go forward and prosecute the case."

The DoJ prosecuted Cohen for participating in the conspiracy. Now the nation's top law enforcement agency needs to prosecute the man that the DoJ has already said "directed" it!

Ravel also offers her insight on how the FEC became so captured and broken in the first place (Hint: Trump's former White House Counsel and longtime GOP operative Don McGahn struck a corrupt bargain with Mitch McConnell years ago) and on the Democratic plan in the For the People Act (otherwise known as H.R.1 and S1) to reform the FEC. The plan would restructure it from a 6-person panel designed to deadlock and never move anything forward, to a 5-person panel of appointees selected by non-partisan judges and attorneys, with the fifth appointed by the President. No more than two people from any one political party could serve on the Commission at once, and appointees would have to have spent a number of years not working on political campaigns or as staffers for elected officials, among other sensible restrictions.

"The positive about what they have proposed in HR1 is that there would be a blue-ribbon commission, comprised of people who actually believe in the law and enforcement of the law, who would be nominating and reviewing particular individuals to be on the commission who would abide by the law. That is key to making the change --- to have people who are not beholden to a particular political party, who independently would look at the law and make decisions based on what the legal requirements are."

Naturally, Republicans oppose the reform (along with HR1 in its entirety) and are lying about it to say that it would turn the Commission from a bi-partisan commission into one that gives Democrats partisan control.

Ravel also explains how the Stormy Daniels case --- which can still be prosecuted on a criminal level by the DoJ --- is not necessary over at the FEC either, since the vote to kill the inquiry can now be appealed in a court of law by an outside group.

Then, I've got a bit of a today on the absurd clown show of an audit of the 2020 Presidential election still under way in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona (which we've been covering in detail for the past several weeks); the legitimate audit, being led by several top shelf election and voting systems experts set to begin this week in Windham, New Hampshire (as we detailed in some length last Friday); and the remarkable 8,500 word deep-dive investigative report published over the weekend by Washington Post, detailing how the phony myth of Donald Trump's "stolen" 2020 election came together beginning way back in 2018.

In short (which is not easy with an 8,500 word story!), a wealthy Texas businessman and some Republican operatives calling themselves Associated Specials Operations Group (or ASOG) took the research on vulnerabilities in computer voting and tabulation systems compiled by folks like Bev Harris of Black Voting, Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, myself and others, to morph those very real vulnerabilities into phony claims of actual election fraud. Simply because a system is vulnerable, does not mean the vulnerabilities have been exploited. But such distinctions did not matter to this group which is clearly operating in bad faith, or to Trump who was happy to highlight any lie to cover for his shame of having been a failed, one-term President.

As I have been trying to explain for nearly 20 years on this beat, whether an election is stolen or not, the fact that we now use privatized, non-overseeable computers to cast and tabulate votes is itself a grave threat to democracy. Ultimately, as I've warned over and over again over the years (and as we are now seeing play out), it doesn't matter if an election is 100% accurate and secure if the public can't know that it is. Secret software and concealed vote counting inside computers run by private companies --- even when done perfectly and securely --- allows those operating in bad faith (as is the case with Republicans right now), to claim an election was stolen, even when there is no proof to support such an extraordinary charge. It's nearly impossible to refute such claims, bogus or otherwise.

I have warned about exactly this scenario as a dangerous threat to democracy itself for years, and now, as I explain on today's show, my worst nightmare is now playing out before all of our eyes...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Never listen to Frank Luntz; Newsmax apologizes, admits Dominion 'fraud' claims were phony...
By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2021 6:48pm PT  

Will we ever escape the 2020 "Big Lie"? Maybe. But it's gonna take a while. That said, we've got some very good news on today's BradCast about the next "Big Lie" 2020 ballot audit! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, GOP pollster Frank Luntz appeared on a podcast this week to offer some sage insight about the 2022 elections. We would caution you to take it much of it with some very large grains of salt! Among the points he made, which we discuss (dispute) today: Trump's "Big Lie" is working to con his supporters, but that may cost the Republican Party some wins in the House and/or Senate next year, because, as Luntz claims, voters don't turn out if they believe their vote doesn't count. We explain, based on our own 20 years or so on this particularly beat, why Luntz is probably very wrong and why Dems would be making a huge mistake to take too much comfort from his point on that. Luntz is also dangerously wrong about what he beliefs will happen if Trump becomes the nominee for President in 2024, as we also discuss.

Then, the far-right cable outlet Newsmax has issued a statement apologizing for its false "Big Lie" claims that the 2020 election was stolen for Joe Biden by the Dominion Voting Systems company and, specifically, by its Director of Product Strategy and Security, Dr. Eric Coomer. He sued the wingut outlet for defamation last December, naming the Trump Campaign, Team Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and even farther rightwing outlet, One America News Network (OANN) as defendants as well.

All of them had forwarded baseless claims that Coomer was on a conference call with "Antifa", promising to steal the election for Biden. Seriously. That's what they claimed. It was an absurd charge that nonetheless was repeated and reported over and again in MAGA Land after they were confirmed as losers in the November election. It resulted in death threats and doxxing for Coomer, his family, his co-workers, etc. Newsmax has now admitted their reporting was false, and that they have no evidence to support Dominion or Coomer having stolen anything.

Newsmax has now been removed from Coomer's lawsuit in exchange for the public apology and an undisclosed sum of money. Looney Toons MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, however (who is being sued by Dominion for $1.3 billion [PDF]), can't seem to sleep at night now. He is furious about the development, and is now reportedly calling on the MAGA Mob to boycott Newsmax and watch OANN instead because Newsmax caved...by telling the truth.

Next, taking a break (mostly) today from our recent in-depth coverage of the clown show "audit" theater playing out in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, we move to the next post-election audit of 2020 ballots demanded by the MAGA Mob. This one will now be in Windham, New Hampshire and will be very different from the non-transparent shell-game being carried out largely in secret by the clueless, experience-free Cyber Ninjas nitwits and cretins in Phoenix.

In Windham, a November recount of four local state Representatives races were found to have been off by about 300 votes from the initial tally. That, of course, is cause for concern [PDF]. Particularly since the town still uses really old, easily-manipulated, oft-failed Diebold AccuVote optical scanners to tally voters' hand-marked paper ballots. (Their systems are also programmed and maintained by a disreputable company named LHS Associates.)

The reason for the discrepancy in the state Rep results is apparently still unclear. This has led the MAGA Mob to believe they've finally found evidence that the election was stolen from Trump (somehow) and --- in his best fat, sad Jake LaMotta at the end of Raging Bull impression --- led Trump during a wedding at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend to declare "massive election fraud" has been discovered in NH, which he was certified to have lost by about 59,000 votes.

But, here's the fun twist! The Windham audit will not be overseen by Cyber Ninja clowns with no experience in elections or voting systems. Longtime post-election audit expert Mark Lindeman, Ph.D., who currently serves as Acting Co-Director for the non-partisan, non-profit voting system watchdog, Verified Voting, has been tapped to run the audit. In turn, two longtime friends of both The BradCast and The BRAD BLOG, whose expertise for this audit is unparalleled, have also been tapped to work on it.

UC-Berkley's math professor Philip Stark, who invented the Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, tells me that he is now on board. BradCast listeners may remember him as a guest on this show. Also now on board is the legendary Finnish cybersecurity and voting systems expert, Harri Hursti. He is the first known hacker of a Diebold optical-scan system, as witnessed in the climactic final scene of HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary, Hacking Democracy (along with our guest from this past Wednesday's show, veteran Florida election official, Ion Sancho), and as the central figure in HBO's chilling 2020 follow-up to that doc, KILL CHAIN: The Cyber War on America's Elections. Moreover, Hursti is one of the organizers each year of the Vote Hacking Village at DefCon in Las Vegas and was first interviewed by myself in the award-winning 2008 documentary Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story.

These are serious experts in the field, and hopefully will result in a serious examination of whatever went wrong in Windham in this past election --- even if it's unlikely to uncover that the election was stolen from Trump. Whether the MAGA Mob, who were elated about the Windham audit initially, will be as happy about the serious, non-hack professionals running it remains to be seen. So far, they are not.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest news-packed Green News Report, with bad news about "new normal" global temperatures and the planet's glaciers, but better news about California stopping Nestle from stealing its water and Biden canceling Trump's wall...and using the saved tax-payer dollars to repair the environmental damage from the stupid project...

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Guest: FairVote's David Daley; Also: Insiders aided insurrection; Biden's executive actions, move to end private prisons; Schumer wins Senate power battle, Repubs vote to nix Impeachment, cling to filibuster...
By Brad Friedman on 1/26/2021 6:53pm PT  
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On today's BradCast: The effort by Donald Trump and Republicans to steal the Presidential election with false allegations of "voter fraud" didn't work. But that tsunami of disinformation is now being used to advance new restrictions on voting in the states as the GOP obstruction gets underway in the new Democratically-controlled U.S. Senate.

First today, there is quite a bit of news out of both the White House and the Senate. Among those stories covered today...

  • President Biden's flurry of executive orders continue, including one today that calls for an end to privately-run federal prison facilities.
  • Biden's nominee for Sec. of State, Anthony Blinken, was confirmed in the Senate. His nominee for Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, the first woman in that role, was sworn in today by the nation's first female Vice President.
  • Mitch McConnell caved in his demand that Chuck Schumer and the Democrats promise to not do away with the wildly undemocratic legislative filibuster before he would agree to a new power-sharing agreement in the nation's wildly undemocratic upper chamber of Congress
  • The historic second impeachment of Donald Trump, on charges of "Incitement of Insurrection" for the deadly, January 6th U.S. Capitol riot, formally began with Senators sworn in on Tuesday as "impartial" jurors and a vote by 45 Senate Republicans to toss out the whole matter entirely.
  • And, before this one slips completely down the memory hole...Charges filed by the Justice Department against several military veterans who took part in the attempted insurrection at the Capitol that killed five people, include allegations that dozens of the former military insurrectionists pre-planned their coordinated attack, had hoped to arrest lawmakers, and appear to have had disturbing help from at least one, still-unidentified Congressional insider who gave the seditionists real-time help during the attack to locate lawmakers who had been shuttled into secured locations below the Capitol.

Then, we're joined by DAVID DALEY Senior Fellow at FairVote and author of the books UNRIGGED: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy and RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. The latter documents the GOP's ingeniously insidious --- and successful --- plan to capture electoral control of statehouses in the 2010 elections in order to gerrymander the hell out of them for the next 10 years (or more).

Daley writes this week at Boston Globe about the latest effort by GOP state legislators to exploit Trump's absurdly false claims about "voter fraud" in the 2020 election in order to implement new restrictions on voting at the state level and new ways to game the electoral college vote. Among the states we discuss where Republicans are right now citing false fraud claims in order to game the systems: Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, Georgia, Minnesota and Texas. These efforts are very real, and may well work, even in states which currently have Democratic Governors.

We also discuss the ridiculously undemocratic Senate, where Democratic Senators represent tens of millions of more voters than Republicans but, due to "the original gerrymander" as Daley describes it, are barely able to win 50 percent of the seats. "The US Senate is weighted so viciously towards small states in a way that the founders, if they saw it now, they would be truly horrified," he tells me.

"You've got a 50/50 body and yet, those 50 Democratic Senators are representing about 41.5 MILLION MORE PEOPLE.  When you add into that the small-state bias of the Electoral College, when you add into that the advantage that that bias has given Republicans in selecting Supreme Court Justices --- five of these nine Justices  on the Supreme Court selected by a President that lost the popular vote --- when you factor in the advantages that Republicans have with gerrymandering and geography --- all the way down from the US House to the state legislative level --- we are looking at an epidemic of Republican minority rule in this country."

And then there's the need to get rid of the undemocratic filibuster in the already wildly undemocratic Senate if Democrats hope, as they are now promising, to quickly accomplish "big, bold things" done. One of those "big, bold things," as we discuss, is HR-1, the "For the People Act." It's an enormously ambitious and much-needed bill that includes a ton of long-overdue reforms for voting and fair elections; ending dominance of big money and dark money in politics; and re-enforcing disclosure and ethics rules for members of Congress. But, as long as the filibuster remains in place, it will be next to impossible to see that, or any of the other much-needed reforms get through Congress. Constituents of Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona and Joe Manchin in West Virginia may wish to mention that to them. Repeatedly.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more news on major executive actions signed by the new President to roll back years of Trump damage to our environment, and to push Biden's "Buy American" initiative to, among other things, move the nation as quickly as possible to American made, all-electric cars as the days of the internal combustion engine must quickly come to an end...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and DoJ's rescue of Trump in rape defamation case; Also: 'Unprecedented' climate change-fueled infernos in OR, WA, CA...
By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2020 7:02pm PT  

No matter everything else on today's BradCast, we end with some bona fide very good news today for voters in a key battleground state! [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

Speaking of key battleground states, it was state primary Election Day on Tuesday in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, the penultimate primaries of the season (with only Delaware left to go next Tuesday in Joe Biden's home state.) We cover noteworthy results today from both states, even if there were few surprises.

Next, folks up and down the West Coast have literally been "seeing red" over the past day or two, as wind-sparked, heat-fueled, climate change-intensified infernos continue to burn out of control through millions of acres at a record pace today. Among the results has been blood red sunlight across parts of Northern California and much of the Pacific Northwest, even in areas far from any active blazes.

During a press conference this afternoon, Oregon's Gov. Kate Brown described the outbreak of fires burning in both her state and neighboring Washington as "unprecedented", warning they could result in "the greatest loss of human life and property due to wildfire in our state's history." As we went to air, officials were prioritizing the safety of residents --- many of whom are evacuating, others who had to be airlifted out --- and homes, with hundreds already reportedly destroyed. These apocolyptic stories of millions of acress burned and communities completely wiped out should be front page news everywhere, but aren't. And every story should about them should tie the record-setting, catastrophic disasters to our quickly worsening climate crisis, but they don't. We do.

Then, we're joined by Slate's ace legal reporter, and one of our favorite guests, MARK JOSEPH STERN, for a two-fer today. First up, Stern explains the unprecedented use of the Federal Tort Claims Act, as invoked in a federal court filing on Tuesday night by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, to try and protect Donald Trump from a defamation lawsuit filed against him in New York state court. The case involves columnist E. Jean Carroll who alleges Trump raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990's. After she described the incident in a recent book, Trump called Carroll a liar, claiming to have never even met her (despite a photograph of them together), and asserted he couldn't have raped her because she was "not my type."

Carroll sued the President for defamation and, after successfully defeating several motions to dismiss by Trump's personal lawyers, was set to both depose Trump in the case and obtain a DNA sample from him that she believes will match a stain on the dress she said she was wearing during the alleged assaulted at NY's Bergdorf Goodman department store in 1995.

On Tuesday, the DoJ intervened with a stunning motion to move the case from state to federal court, and replace Trump's personal defense attorneys with their own. If upheld by the court, that would effectively end the case under the Federal Tort Claims Act, where defamation suits against federal employees are barred. Stern, however, explains what the law is meant to do --- protect federal officials from being held personally liable for lawful acts done in the course of carrying out their jobs --- versus how the DoJ is now attempting to use it to shield Trump from liability for defaming a woman who says she has evidence of a rape more than two decades before he became President. Whether Bill Barr's DoJ attorneys will successfully prove to a federal court that defaming a citizen while responding to reporters questions about a rape twenty-five years ago is truly within the scope of a President's duties remains to be seen. But the filing itself is now likely to push the deposition and DNA test, in any case, beyond the November 3rd election, as Trump was hoping for.

Finally, we get to the bona fide good news today out of North Carolina, where a panel of state court judges late last week finally struck down an 1877 law meant to "secure white supremacy" in the state following the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. The law barred former felons who completed their prison sentences as well as all parole and probation from registering to vote if they still owed court-imposed fines and fees. As Stern reports --- and as revealed during the course of the case --- the law was originally spearheaded by a state lawmaker who presided over the lynching of three Black men and was meant, according to documents [PDF] unearthed by an expert witness historian for the plaintiffs, to prevent "the honest vote of a white man" from being "off-set by the vote of some negro."

The court's ruling means that some 100,000 NC residents are now newly eligible to vote in the 2020 Presidential election in one of the most closely divided states in the nation Another ruling from the same panel, likely to come after a trial, according to Stern, could result in another 70,000 currently disenfranchised former felons becoming eligible to vote as well. Moreover, as the case involves state law and is in state court, it cannot be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Stern --- who recently published "An Extremely Comprehensive Guide to Making Sure Your Vote County, In Every State", also explains that the ruling will almost certainly not be overturned by the 6 to 1 liberal majority on NC's Supreme Court because, as he tells me, "there are a lot of bad ass women of color on North Carolina's state Supreme Court, and I think these individuals are going to say we cannot tolerate a racist law from 150 years ago."

Not coincidentally, as a racist, 150-year old Jim Crow measure is finally being knocked down in NC, the GOP majority in Florida's state legislature just adopted a nearly identical measure just last year to bar former felons from voting if they have not paid off all court-imposed fines and fees. That law was found to amount to an unconstitutional poll tax by a federal judge earlier this year, but his ruling has now been stayed by SCOTUS until after the 2020 Presidential election in that key swingstate. The stay allowing Florida's "pay-to-vote" law is likely to block as many as 1.5 million potential new voters --- including a quarter of the state's male African-American population --- from voting this November in the Sunshine State...

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Prime-time Oval Office speech goes disastrously, markets plunge, almost all gains under Trump wiped out, major league seasons called off, Biden and Sanders step up, even as critical elections threatened by virus...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's error-laden prime-time speech to the nation from the Oval Office on Wednesday night did little to ease the nation's anxieties over the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it appears to have made things much worse in a number of ways.

The Dow Futures market plummeted as his remarks began, with the DJI closing down more than 2,300 points on Thursday. In all, after hitting a record high just weeks ago, the markets have lost nearly 90% of the gains they've seen since Trump took office in January of 2017. One more day like this and all of those gains will be lost. So much for "rocket fuel to the economy".

Fortunes on Wall Street, however, may be the least of the country's problems right now. Trump's announcement on Wednesday night called for a travel ban from all European countries other than the United Kingdom (for reasons that no one seems able to explain) and for the payroll tax cut he's been seeking for months (long before the virus), which few experts believe will be much help amidst this worsening epidemic. Moreover, no sooner did Trump finish his teleprompter remarks than the White House had to begin issuing corrections to them. No, trade and cargo would not actually be banned from Europe, as Trump claimed, and the health insurance industry didn't actually agree to offer free coronavirus treatments to all as the Liar-in-Chief claimed Wednesday night.

Europe was blindsided by the announcement, and it was left to Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to try and calm an anxious nation today with their own speeches addressing the crisis as Trump continues to refuse to declare a national emergency because it would reveal he had lied about the epidemic for weeks. (And apparently he needs to get Jared's permission first.)

The NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball all announced they are suspending their seasons, the NCAA cancelled their March Madness tournaments, Disneyland will be closing their doors, and Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife Rita Wilson have both contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

But what about the upcoming primary and general elections? Are we really going to continue asking voters to stand in long lines with hundreds of people to vote on potentially virus-infected touchscreen voting systems? As it turns out, hand-marked paper ballots still moist from hand-sanitizer also caused problems this week in New Hampshire's municipal elections, jamming optical-scan tabulators at precincts.

The U.S. Vote Foundation, led by former GOP Chair Michael Steele, is now calling on Congress to immediately pass legislation requiring every state in the union to allow no-excuse absentee/Vote-by-Mail ballots for all voters. And while I am no fan of Vote-by-Mail usually (other than in jurisdiction where voters are forced to vote on touchscreen voting systems at the polls), it's looking more and more like we are all going to be voting via VBM this year if the virus continues on its current trajectory.

We cover all of that and much more on today's show, before ending on a "lighter note"...with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report (which, believe it or not, actually has a quite a bit of welcome good news today...at least once we get past the coronavirus part of it anyway.)

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Vengeful Trump now attacking jury foreperson in Stone case, as his lawless, vindictive 'descent into Constitutional madness' continues; Also: How to find ourselves out of this darkness...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2020 6:32pm PT  

Although I didn't reference Adam Schiff's remarks from just two weeks ago during the impeachment trial on the "the normalization of lawlessness," about which he presciently warned "that way madness lies". But, upon reflecting on today's BradCast, it seemed an appropriate headline. It was only one week ago that corrupt and cowardly Senate Republicans had the chance to remove Trump from office, but acquitted him instead with the message to continue breaking the law and shredding the Constitution.It was just one week before that when Schiff warned: "What we have seen over the last couple days is a descent into Constitutional madness." This week has made that madness seem like child's play. [Audio link to show follows below.]

These are dark times. Growing darker by the day. But we can't turn away, as much as we might like to right now. Now is the time to step forward and help ourselves --- help each other --- back into the light. It won't be easy. But we must. And we do what we can, once again, towards that end on today's program. Among the stories covered today...

  • An vengeful, bitter, out-of-control Trump turns his ongoing Twitter attacks from federal Justice Department prosecutors working on the case against his friend and convicted felon Roger Stone onto the foreperson of the jury that convicted him;
  • A witness in the trial who was threatened by Stone (who was convicted of witness tampering and lying to Congress, among his seven counts), has pleaded for no jail time for the longtime GOP dirty-trickster, but has also now stepped forward to call out Trump's attacks on the four prosecutors who quit the case in protest as a "vile smear job" by the President;
  • Trump's former Chief-of-Staff, Marine Corps General John Kelly, calls out Trump for his wrathful firing of decorated Iraq War vet Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from his post on the National Security Counsel because Vindman dared answer a lawful subpoena to testify truthfully to Congress about Trump's unlawful bribery campaign against Ukraine. Kelly argues Vindman should be respected, not attacked, for refusing to follow "an illegal order" from the President. "We teach them," Kelly said, "‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss.'" The legal defense by Nazi soldiers that they were just following orders, whether unlawful or not, failed at the Nuremburg Trials. But perhaps Trump disagrees with that verdict too. In response, Trump attacked Kelly, tweeting that he was "over his head" as CoS, couldn't be fired "fast enough", and that Kelly has a "military and legal obligation" to "keep his mouth shut." The Nazi's defense attorneys would be very proud of this President;
  • But how do we get out of this dark mess and reverse the madness? There is only one way left that I'm aware of, which is why I have spent so many years fighting for the right to vote and for publicly overseeable voting systems. After about 10 lonely years warning specifically about the development of the new, 100% unverifiable "VSAP" touchscreen voting system set for first-time use in Los Angeles County in the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, I've finally received a bit of help in those warnings of late from the corporate media. Last week, it came from an investigative report by CBS-2 Los Angeles (in which I appear). This morning, it came from a new investigative report on L.A.'s dangerous new systems from Cynthia McFadden, as previewed on NBC's Today show. We share that report today, along with advice on how to overcome the dangers presented by the new, $300,000,000 boondoggle of a voting system coming to the nation's most populous jurisdiction, as well as how to do the same in other states and counties (including battlegrounds like Georgia, Philadelphia, parts of Texas and elsewhere) where voters will be forced to vote on similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems at the polls in this year's never-more-critical Presidential election;
  • Oh, and we have a few more observations on the New Hampshire primary turnout which we couldn't get to yesterday, but which are still worth taking note of today, as we all move forward to the next primaries and caucuses;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report, with some seemingly genuinely good --- and very surprising --- news from a major fossil fuel company, that almost, if not entirely, helps us forget about the much-less-good news in the rest of today's GNR and, for that matter, today's BradCast!...

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Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Lisa Graves warns there is now 'a cancer on the Justice Department'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2020 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Once again, Donald Trump managed to step on a big night for Democrats, with what is turning out to be an unprecedented "break-the-glass-in-case-of-fire" crisis at the U.S. Department of Justice. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The unspeakably important fight to replace the most dangerous, unfit, authoritarian President this nation has ever seen continued on Tuesday night in New Hampshire, where a pleasantly smooth primary election resulted in a narrow win for Bernie Sanders, with Pete Buttigieg close on his heels yet again, followed by a surprise third place win for Amy Klobuchar. After double-digit percentages for those three, Elizabeth Warren came in a distant fourth, followed by an undoubtedly disappointing fifth place finish for Joe Biden.

The contest also resulted in three candidates dropping out of the race. Colorado Senator Michael Bennet hung it up, as did former MA Governor Deval Patrick (leaving no more African-Americans in the race) and previously unknown entrepreneur Andrew Yang (leaving Tulsi Gabbard, who finished a distance 7th, as the only person of color remaining in the Democratic nominating contest.) Sanders second popular vote victory in two weeks leaves him as the front-runner ahead of Nevada next week, South Carolina the week after, and Super Tuesday in more than a dozen states three days later, where voters will decide how long this contest will run, as several candidates remain more than viable after the two early outings.

We discuss, along with a reminder that all of New Hampshire voted, without apparent problem Tuesday, on hand-marked paper ballots, with citizen volunteers in some 40% of Granite State towns counting those hand-marked ballots by hand, publicly, with everybody watching, no apparent problems or delays, and results announced at each counting location upon completion. We call that Democracy's Gold Standard and thank the volunteers in those NH towns.

Unfortunately, that joyous exercise in public democracy and civic duty was marred by the quickly expanding crisis in Washington D.C. where four prosecutors running the case against Trump confidante Roger Stone, who was recently found guilty of lying to Congress and witness tampering, abruptly quit the case on Tuesday. One of them resigned from the Dept. of Justice entirely.

That stunning news on Tuesday came after a tweet from Trump, describing the sentencing recommendation as a "miscarriage of justice!", before an announcement by a senior official at DoJ that the line prosecutors' recommendation, based on federal sentencing guidelines, was "extreme and excessive and disproportionate to Stone’s offenses."

Further reporting throughout the day --- as Trump continued his Twitter tirade, even attacking the federal judge overseeing Stone's case --- revealed that it was not the only time in recent days that Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr appears to have interceded to soften sentencing recommendations for close friends of Trump found guilty of lying to federal officials during the Robert Mueller Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. NBC News reports that a recently installed Barr apparatchik also changed the DoJ prosecutors' sentencing recommendation for Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn last month. It was originally for 0 to 6 months in prison, but modified last month to nothing more than probation.

And, as all of that was unspooling, Trump pulled his nomination for a top post at the Treasury Dept. for the former U.S. Attorney for D.C., Jessie Liu. As USA, she had overseen Stone's case and a number of others related to the Mueller probe, until she was relieved of that post on the same day that the DoJ changed their sentencing recommendation for Flynn. Liu had been scheduled to answer questions in her Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday for the Treasury post, but that has been conveniently nixed with Trump's withdrawal of her nomination on Tuesday.

We're joined today to discuss these stunning --- and somewhat terrifying --- turns of event by LISA GRAVES, who previously served as Deputy Asst. U.S. Attorney General at the DoJ under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. She is also the former Chief Counsel for Nominations in the U.S. Senate and former Deputy Chief for the U.S. Court system. So, she has quite a bit of insight into many aspects of this. She, like us, is exceedingly disturbed by what one former, longtime DoJ senior official characterized as "a shocking, cram-down political intervention in the criminal justice process," declaring that "We are now truly at a break-glass-in-case-of-fire moment for the Justice Dept."

Graves, who recently founded the new watchdog group TrueNorthResearch.org, echoes that alarm today. "This is really a crisis," she warns. "And it's hard to say that, given that we are in the midst of an ongoing crisis based on what the Republicans in the Senate did this past month and what the President is up to. This is a crisis that is really unparalleled in the modern history of the Justice Department. It's a Constitutional crisis and really an existential crisis, because this is an active assault on the rule of law in this country."

She explains that "this is an absolute, confirmed and repeated breach of the independence of the Justice Department...I'm not sure how it can be fixed, given the fact that the Justice Department has been so corrupted by this President and by his willing hand-maiden, Bill Barr." Graves cites the upcoming election as our only way out, at this point, from "this sort of behavior turning America into a banana republic", before she borrows from the Nixon impeachment proceedings to describe the ongoing events as "a cancer on the Justice Department."

She also shares her thoughts on whether she believes the DoJ itself --- with the words "The place of Justice is a hallowed place" (ironically now?) etched above its door on Pennsylvania Avenue --- can ever be fully repaired after this breach, even after Trump is no longer despoiling the White House...

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Guest: Dr. William 'DocDawg' Busa on a mysterious rightwing PAC spending millions to support a progressive in NC and GOP's pretend love for Sanders; Also: Bernie surges nationally, Trump lies in NH...
By Brad Friedman on 2/11/2020 6:00pm PT  

As usual, we cover far too much on today's BradCast, as New Hampshire voters head to the polls for their first-in-the-nation primary today. Full reported results from NH tomorrow, of course. [Audio link for today's show is posted below.]

Among those too many things covered today...

  • We start with some common sense news out of Nevada, where state Democrats, after the Iowa Caucus disaster, have decided to use hand-marked paper ballots for early voting in the state's upcoming February 22nd caucuses. However, they will still be relying on a vulnerable, online iPad tool to record sign-ins (albeit with paper backup, so there's that);
  • On Monday night, the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump rallied in the Granite State by lying to supporters about voter fraud there, and by taking a small page from the disgraced Chris Christie's New Jersey "BridgeGate" scandal. Trump's Secret Service detail, according to campaign officials, made it difficult for Democratic candidates and their supporters to get around the state's largest city. Given that Republican Senators recently gave a thumbs up for Trump to cheat in the 2020 election with their "not guilty" votes at the end of last week's Impeachment Trial, nobody should be surprised he is now doing so;
  • But there was some very good news for Bernie Sanders from a national Quinnipiac poll on Monday night, revealing the Vermont Senator vaulting into first place ahead of Joe Biden for the first time. We also review a number of other interesting findings for the survey suggesting good news for Sanders, along with a warning that those are national numbers, in a nation that runs state-by-state elections instead. Just ask Hillary Clinton;
  • As he gains momentum, Sanders is also being forced to defend his identity as a "democratic socialist" and his support for programs such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Republicans (and even some Democrats) are hoping to disparage Sanders with those charges, from which he does not shy away;
  • At the same time, Trump and friends and family are attempting to sow discord among Democrats by claiming that the DNC is rigging the election against Sanders, hoping they'll convince Sanders' supporters to sit out 2020 if he is not the nominee;
  • At the same time, Republicans in South Carolina are reportedly urging their own supporters to vote for Sanders in the state's upcoming February 29 primary, since the state GOP cancelled their own primary there as a gift to Donald Trump. The theory, also floated publicly by Trump himself, is that they'd love to run against Sanders this November because, they'd like you to believe he will be easy to beat;
  • And, just to the north, a mysterious group calling themselves the "Faith and Power PAC" is playing a similar game, by spending nearly $2.5 million to support a progressive state Senator for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in North Carolina's March 3rd Super Tuesday primary. The new group appears to be tied to Republicans and the candidate they are running ads for, state Senator Erica D. Smith [pictured above right], is currently running behind the centrist D.C. Dem-supported Cal Cunningham in the contest to win the Dem Senate nomination to run against vulnerable Republican incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis this fall. The TV spot purporting to be on behalf of Smith, highlights her support for Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and other progressive policies making her "one of us", as the ad claims. (We interviewed Smith on The BradCast late last year, as she was demanding hand-marked paper ballots for North Carolina);
  • We're joined today by North Carolina's DR. WILLIAM BUSA of the progressive political data consulting firm EQV Analytics to discuss all of the dirty tricks in the Carolinas. Busa, who previously worked for state Senator Smith and writes as "DocDawg" at DailyKos, suggests this mysterious group of Republicans may have made a miscalculation in their attempt to monkey-wrench the Democratic Senate primary race in his state. He also explains how they may have committed fraud in their FEC filing. He shares his insight on the curious NC ad buy and the question of whether Republicans are really interested in running against progressives like Sanders and Smith because they believe they will be easy to beat this November, or because they want Democratic voters to BELIEVE progressives will be easy to beat. "Is this eleventy-dimensional chess or is this Tic-Tac-Toe that they're playing?," Busa asks. "I'm not entirely sure which it is, but I don't think it's eleventy-dimensional chess." We've got a lot to unpack in that conversation today!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with good news and bad Down Under, unquestionably bad news for bumblebees and Antarctica (and, by extension, for all of us) and the interesting way that Democrats raised the issue of climate change during last Friday's Presidential Debate in New Hampshire...

See? Told you we covered too much! Enjoy!...

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Caucus errors lead to unsupported charges of 'rigging'; Sanders seeks 'partial recanvass'; Unattended L.A. Vote-by-Mail drop-box removed thanks to public oversight; More Trump disasters and lies...
By Brad Friedman on 2/10/2020 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We get you all caught up after Friday night's lively Democratic debate in New Hampshire --- which included many calls for unity by most of the candidates --- and as voters in the Granite State prepare to vote on Tuesday in the first-in-the-nation primary. But the reported results from first-in-the-nation caucuses, held last week in Iowa, are still roiling some Democratic partisans. Others, meanwhile, are taking important actions to make our elections more secure, as we report on a citizen action that led to small, if positive change in Los Angeles in advance of the critical March 3rd Super Tuesday primary. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The only thing that appears reasonably certain regarding last week's Iowa mess at this hour is that Bernie Sanders received more votes than any other candidates and that Pete Buttigieg appears to have come in second, while perhaps winning an infinitesimally larger portion of "State Delegate Equivalents", thanks to the absurdly complex Iowa Caucus math and a number of seemingly random errors in that math on enough precinct worksheets that Associated Press is still refusing to call the race one way or another.

As discussed on today's program, those math worksheets were signed off on as accurate, not only by every Precinct Leader and Secretary at each caucus cite, but also by the campaign captains of each candidate at every caucus site. Nonetheless, with math errors discovered on those sheets at a small number of precincts (thankfully due to the transparency of the otherwise complex caucus processes in Iowa as demanded by Sanders after the 2016 caucuses) and the state Democratic Party attorney's claim that correcting the math worksheets would amount to election tampering under state law, the Sanders campaign is requesting a "partial recanvass" of results from about 20 or 30 of the state's more than 1,700 caucuses.

While the ultimate delegate count out of Iowa is unlikely to change very much --- Sanders and Buttigieg are largely tied on that score --- a number of his supporters are charging the contest was rigged or stolen from him by the DNC and/or Iowa Democratic Party (and/or, apparently, the Buttigieg Campaign. Based on the currently available evidence, I disagree with that charge and explain why on today's program.

Despite the increasing animosity between some supporters of the candidates, pretty much all of the Democrats still in the hunt for the nomination spent portions of Friday's debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, and subsequent media appearances and rallies thereafter, calling for unity among the party faithful, in order to defeat Donald Trump this November. Whether their supporters heard those pleas or not is another matter, but we make an effort to help them hear that message just a bit better on today's program.

We also take some time to share a few news headlines from the past couple of days underscoring again what a dangerous and unprecedentedly dishonest menace this American President represents to both the nation and the world. Among those news headlines today...

  • The African-American fourth-grader who Trump awarded with a scholarship at his State of the Union Address last week, as it turns out, already attends one of Philadelphia's most prestigious charter schools and needs no scholarship. The privately-run public school is already paid for with tax dollars. Yes, Trump's stunt was another scam;
  • The deadly and injurious fallout from Trump's unlawful assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani at the beginning of the year, on the heels of his impeachment, continues today. More than 100 U.S. service members, according to a new report from CNN today, have now been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries following the missile attack response by Iran on a military base in Iraq housing U.S. troops. After the Iranian response, Trump claimed all was well, and that no service members were killed or injured. That turns out to have been another lie. Last month, after the first reports of traumatic brain injury to troops was reported, Trump dismissed them as "headaches". The head of the influential Veterans of Foreign Wars is now demanding an apology from the President;
  • And, in one more reminder today about what a dangerous menace this President is and his reelection would be to the nation and its people, Trump released his $4.8 trillion budget proposal on Monday. It includes calls for deep cuts to student loan assistance, affordable housing, food stamps, health care (Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act), education and the environment. With those calls for slashing the federal public safety net, Trump is also proposing increased spending on the military, his border wall, his "Space Force" program, and an extension to his tax cuts which mostly benefited corporations and wealthy Americans.

Finally today, we have an interesting story about a Sanders supporter out here in Los Angeles who discovered a dangerously light and apparently totally unguarded table-top drop-off for Vote-by-Mail ballots at a UCLA facility over the weekend. According to the campaign volunteer, It was "light as a feather...not bolted down...right by the door [and] weighs about 5 pounds and could easily be taken."

After we contacted the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan with the report over the weekend, including a photograph of the unattended drop-box [as seen in the graphic above], Logan told us this morning that the vulnerable table-top container at the facility has now been replaced with a permanent, 1,000 pound collection box. We share the telling (and just a bit snarky) email exchange between he and me that led to the upgrade in advance of California's March 3rd Super Tuesday primary. That good news comes thanks to PUBLIC OVERSIGHT of our public election processes by a concerned voter! We could use a helluva lot more of that!...

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Guest: Former operative Allen Raymond suggests plot to tie up Iowa Dem results hotline may involve more than just online 'Trump trolls'
Also: Sanders wins Iowa (but so does Buttigieg) as NH Primary looms; Record heat melts Antarctica; Vindictive Trump fires impeachment witnesses...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2020 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With media reports on Thursday that online "Trump trolls" were making hundreds of calls to tie up the Iowa Democratic Party's results hotline after Monday's Caucuses in order to hold up results and embarrass Democrats, we're joined for an exclusive interview today with stakiomeone who knows a thing or two about such plots. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

In 2002, ALLEN RAYMOND, a then decade-long Republican operative and owner of a GOP phone-bank company, was hired to lead a scheme to tie up the Democratic Get Out the Vote phone lines during that year's very tight New Hampshire U.S. Senate race between Republican John Sununu and the state's then-Governor, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. The now-infamous scandal, which included thousands of automated phone calls to prevent Dems from carrying out their GOTV phone-banking effort, ended with a narrow win by Sununu that year. But the scheme was uncovered and four GOP operatives, were eventually convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, taking part in the RNC-funded effort. Raymond was one of them. He pleaded guilty and ended up serving 3 months in federal prison. In 2008, the contrite former operative published a book about that exploit and others during his time as a senior consultant to the Party called How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative.

Raymond joins us today to discuss the 2002 plot in NH, how it came about, and what was behind it, as well as to offer his thoughts about what we should know regarding whatever may have happened to the Democratic Party's hotline on Monday night in Iowa. He is skeptical about whether a few "trolls" on a popular rightwing Internet message board could effectively tie up enough lines to create the kind of chaos that ensued in Iowa, suggesting that its possible the scheme may be larger than currently reported.

"That takes a fairly sustained, collaborated, concerted effort," he explains. "So the question it raises in my mind is, can that happen organically?" Without making any allegations, he is calling for an immediate law enforcement investigation which he says should be able to quickly uncover the source of the phone harassment, the same felony for which he pleaded guilty to years ago in the RNC's NH scheme. "It raises enough suspicion of a coordinated effort that it's worth looking at."

It wouldn't be the first time in even recent months that an emboldened RNC has carried out a similar phone scheme against Democrats. As the New York Times reported last November, Republicans attempted to swamp Congressional Democratic phone lines with thousands of automated calls during the early stages of Donald Trump's impeachment inquiry.

Raymond also shares his thoughts on what has become of the Republican Party in recent years since he was thrown under the bus when the NH plot was uncovered (he is now a registered Democrat); how he and other political operatives justify such dirty tricks and/or illegalities when taking these kind of unsavory and/or unlawful actions in order to win elections; and what American voters should be concerned about as the 2020 election progresses under a Republican Party headed by a vengeful, recently-impeached President.

"This phone disruption effort occurring in the very first contest of the presidential nominating process leading up to November's general election, should be reason enough" to be concerned, he tells me. "If it's happening on the first one, and nothing's done, we're sending a signal that this is the new norm, it's okay, that you will not be punished or prosecuted for this kind of conduct. That's why, at minimum, an aggressive investigation should occur to determine what exactly happened, for the purposes of protecting against the same conduct in the future. Because by not prosecuting, by not investigating, the signal is being sent: 'Hey, we all agree that that stinks but that's okay, go ahead and do it because law enforcement is not going to come knocking on your door.'"

"A republic's center of gravity is its electoral process," Raymond warns. "And if our electoral process is compromised --- whether it be from domestic actors or foreign actors --- that's reason enough to do whatever you can to protect it."

Please tune in for this full, fascinating conversation with someone who has quite a bit of insight on many aspects of all of these matters.

Also on today's show: With the New Hampshire primary days away, AP announces that the chaotic results of Monday in Iowa will prevent them from calling a winner in the Democratic Caucuses, but that doesn't stop us from doing so; Antarctica hits an all-time record 65 degrees, underscoring, yet again, the need to replace a President who is a menace not only to the country's future, but to the entire planet's; Trump fires patriotic Iraq War vet and National Security Counsel Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alex Vindman and his million-dollar donor EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland for testifying truthfully during the U.S. House Impeachment inquiry; and Steven Colbert has a few thoughts about Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)'s courage and unprecedented vote against Trump in this past week's Senate Impeachment trial...

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Also: CBS-LA runs investigative report (featuring Brad) on L.A.'s new unverifiable touchscreen voting system; And a word or two about Romney's courage and Trump's ugly everlasting shame...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2020 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We dispatch with the dark, ugly post-impeachment bitterness of our completely unfit and totally guilty President as quickly as possible at the top of today's show, along with a word or two about Mitt Romney's commendable, historic courage. Then it's on to looking forward to how Americans must remove this dangerous man from office, even as we all must surmount seemingly impossible odds with our nation's terrible, dangerous, nontransparent voting systems in 2020. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On that score, first up, CBS-2 in Los Angeles ran an investigative report this week, featuring yours truly, on the County's new, unverifiable, $300,000,000 touchscreen voting system. We share the report from CBS-LA's David Goldstein in full, along with some additional thoughts, including the eerie similarities between comments in the CBS report from L.A. County's Registrar Dean Logan, who developed the new VSAP ("Voting Solutions for All People") system, on his strong confidence in the first-time use of this new system before the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, and those from an interview with the Iowa Democratic Party Chair Tom Price on the night before the Iowa Caucuses about his own confidence in the party's new, secretly-developed smartphone app that failed so disastrously the next day.

Then, speaking of Iowa, several reports on Thursday confirm that there was an apparent effort by Trump supporting trolls to jam the phone lines used as the backup for precinct officials to phone in caucus results when the IDP's smartphone app had failed. That element of the story is eerily similar to the 2002 GOP phone-jamming scandal during a U.S. Senate election in New Hampshire that year. Four Republican operatives hired by the party were convicted in a criminal scheme and the party had to pay NH Dems $125,000 in damages afterward. How does that tie to what happened in Iowa? We hope to report more on that on tomorrow's BradCast. But for now, we hope it serves as a reminder that Russia is not the only threat to the integrity of U.S. elections. Not by a long shot.

Today we've got more new, and still-partial (97%), results out of Iowa, showing Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders in a virtual tie, with Buttigieg barely leading in state delegates at the moment (3 out of several thousand divvied up between candidates) and Sanders winning in the raw vote counts in both the first and final rounds of voting on Caucus night. Controversy around the reported numbers, as chaotic and error-ridden as it has been, is actually a good thing, as we explain, given that publicly-witnessed, precinct-based counts (with hand-marked paper ballots to boot) are available from all 1,765 caucus sites. That means, when incorrect numbers have been posted to date, the public has been able to scrutinize and force corrections to those numbers, as has been the case in several instances across the state.

It should also be noted that, despite claims from supporters of some candidates, there is no evidence so far to suggest that any of the errors in reporting were meant to help or harm any particular candidate. As the NYTimes reports tonight, "Some of these inconsistencies may prove to be innocuous, and they do not indicate an intentional effort to compromise or rig the result. There is no apparent bias in favor of the leaders Pete Buttigieg or Bernie Sanders, meaning the overall effect on the winner’s margin may be small."

We go over some of those claims as well today. While some are viewing all of this as chaos and failure, we see it as a victory for PUBLIC OVERSIGHT OF ELECTION RESULTS. Public oversight is generally missing in jurisdictions where computers tally votes (which is to say, in all 50 states) leaving the public often entirely unable to verify results of their own elections. Similar errors occur in virtually every election, but due to the nature of secret counting in most locations, the public rarely learns about or notices them and erroneous results are rarely corrected. That, of course, was what we shamefully saw (or, rather, didn't) in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania after the stunning reported end to the 2016 Presidential election.

Now, ironically enough, a furious National Democratic Pary chair is demanding a recanvass of results in Iowa. But where were those same Dems after 2016 when they decided to not challenge or scrutinize any of the dubious numbers from the most surprising Presidential election results in U.S. history?

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, with more debunkery of Trump's lies about energy at this week's SOTU, some bad news about January's record heat, and some very good news about the scheduled ban on gasoline-powered cars in Great Britain!...

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: Repubs suppressing the 2020 student vote, Dems push-back in TX; Katie Hill's final floor speech...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2019 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Progressive 2020 Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren finally releases her detailed proposal explaining how she plans to pay for "Medicare for All" with "not one penny in middle-class tax increases" and Democrats begin their push-back against a coordinated national GOP effort to curb surging turnout by young voters who, for some reason, tend to lean strongly Democratic when they are allowed to vote. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, we're joined by longtime health care reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN of Politico to break down the pay-fors and the politics of Warren's newly introduced details on how she hopes to fund her $52 trillion single-payer Medical for All plan without raising taxes on the middle class. Warren, in a 9,300-word Medium post on Friday, explained that "Medicare for All is about the same price as our current path --- and cheaper over time." The difference with our current path and her plan, she says, is that her plan covers everyone and even includes new benefits for dental, vision and long-term care, without spending more money than Americans pay overall right now for care that is twice as expensive as the rest of the developed world, but with worse outcomes.

Where fellow progressive Bernie Sanders has emphasized that middle class taxes would necessary increase under his version of Medicare for All while overall costs to Americans would be lower (thanks to no more monthly premiums, co-pays, deductibles, etc.), and where more centrist 2020 Dems like Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris have argued that it would be impossible to find the trillions needed for such universal single-payer plans, Warren laid out her proposal for covering everyone with better care, doctors of their choice, and no increases in taxes on the middle class. The burden as she describes will fall largely on corporations and the top 1% of taxpayers.

"It's interesting that there's been so much focus and pressure on her to produce a plan to pay for a plan that she didn't write --- it's Bernie's plan. But she has embraced it, and since she has made her personal brand being the woman with a plan for everything, it makes sense why she was pressed on this, and why she felt that she had to put something serious out there," Ollstein tells me.

Warren's plan, as Ollstein reports, even offers incentives for business to unionize in order to save money for both workers and companies, while companies are required to pay no more for health care than they already do. Effectively, argues Ollstein, Warren's expansive proposal is effectively "trying to flip the tables" back on her opponents to demonstrate how either she is wrong about her plan, or how their own plans might offer better coverage to all for less money.

Her Democratic competition, however, are not the only ones currently gunning for both her as she continues to rise in the polls, and the others seeking to improve our woeful health care system. "The medical providers have been mobilizing all year long, not just against Medicare For All but for all of the more incremental reforms, as well. They do not want to take a haircut on any of this. And this would be far more than a haircut. This would be a very deep cut."

The debate over Warren's extraordinary ambitious proposal, however, and those of other Democratic candidates, will continue for some time, even if one of them is elected. "What ends up getting actually debated and passed will not look like what we're talking about now," Ollstein predicts. "How close it looks like to what we're talking about will depend on who turns out to vote in 2020, and who sits in those seats in the House and Senate. Because, man, elections matter."

Yes, they do. And Republicans know it. And the GOP effort to prevent Warren or any other Dem who wants to improve health care for Americans from taking ofice is already well under way in a number of battleground states, including Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina and Texas, where Republican lawmakers have been instituting particularly insidious measures to make it much harder for young voters, in particular, to cast a vote at all next year. We detail some of those anti-democratic and anti-Democratic measures today, along with some of the first of the push-back from Dems, who filed suit this week against a recently adopted Texas law that effectively shuts down voting all together on many college campuses. That, as voters in Texas and a number of other states, including Virginia, head to the polls for important elections this coming Tuesday.

In related breaking news as well today, Democratic 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke of Texas announced that he would be dropping out of the Presidential nominating contest.

Finally, freshman Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill of California offered her final U.S. House floor speech on Thursday, following the vote on rules for the process of impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Her remarks come after announcing her abrupt and surprise resignation last weekend in the wake of an ugly divorce battle, an ethics investigation regarding an affair with a staffer (which she denies), and nude photos of her being published by rightwing websites. She suggests those photos were given to her opponents by her "abusive" husband. In her fiery final floor remarks, Hill excoriates what she describes as a double-standard for women who are victimized by revenge porn, even as men who are credibly accused of sexual assault and violence, like the President of the United States (and two U.S. Supreme Court Justices) remain happily in office...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Aquene Freechild; Also: Biden flips on Hyde Amendment, swears off fossil fuel money (sorta); Automakers oppose Trump mileage, emissions rollback; Listener feedback on impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2019 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Remember when overturning Citizens United with a Constitutional amendment used to be a huge thing among progressives? Well, it still is. But something (or someone) came along who seems to be distracting much of the nation from the still-urgent need to get dark money and corporate funding out of electoral politics. We've got a bit of good news on that front today. Just a bit. But we'll take what we can get! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, however, former Veep turned Democratic Presidential candidate and currently presumptive front-runner Joe Biden responded to pressure from his 2020 rivals and the party's base by flipping his position on the Hyde Amendment. Citing his belief that "health care is a right" and the GOP attacks on women's health care, Biden now says he opposes the measure, just hours after he'd affirmed his support for the 1976 law which bans the use of federal funding for abortion, other than in cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother. What should we learn about Biden from this flip-flop? We discuss.

Then, the auto industry appears to have flip-flopped as well. Twice. After working with the Obama Administration in 2009 to hammer out an agreement on new standards for vehicle mileage and carbon emissions, industry leaders begged the Trump Administration to roll back Obama's landmark standards. Trump promised to do the car company's bidding and plans to announce the official rollback over the summer (which, if it stands, will result in lower fuel efficiency and higher gas prices for consumers, increase pollution and lead to the premature deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.) Now the industry is begging Trump not to roll things back quite so far after all, but Trump doesn't care. The Administration plans to move ahead anyway and, as Desi Doyen explains, try to challenge California's long-established right under the Clean Air Act to impose its own higher air quality standards --- a state's right they have enjoyed under law for nearly 50 years now.

Speaking of our worsening climate crisis, the DNC nixed a proposal this week to hold a debate focused solely on climate change and the many different candidate proposals to take it on. The DNC has threatened to sanction 2020 Presidential candidates who may participate in such a forum on their own. We discuss that bizarre stance, particularly given the number of hopefuls who have put forward detailed and important policy proposals to offer an urgently-needed Green New Deal for Americans.

And, speaking of Biden, this week he became the 17th Democratic Presidential hopeful to sign on to the "No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge". But what does that pledge really mean and will it actually keep money from fossil fuel industry lobbyists, PACs and executives out of the race? For that matter, is it even possible to keep corporate PAC and other "dark money" out of our elections following the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme court, no matter how many pledges that Democratic candidates may make?

In related issues, the state of New Hampshire became the 20th state in the union this week to vote to overturn Citizens United with a Constitutional Amendment. The vote was a symbolic landmark for proponents of overturning the disastrous SCOTUS ruling, as it represents what would now be just over half of the 38 states that would be required to ratify such an Amendment. At the same time, the state of Montana, whose Governor Steve Bullock is also running for President on the issue of getting corporate money out of politics, is suing the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS to block the Trump Administration's new rule that would allow certain political action committees to keep their "dark money" donors a secret, even in confidential filings with the IRS, to whom donors previously were disclosed. The state was in federal court for hearings this week in response to the Administration's motion to dismiss the suit.

AQUENE FREECHILD, Co-director of Public Citizen's Democracy is For People campaign, joins us to explain both the good news out of New Hampshire and Montana's complaint against Treasury and the IRS. Freechild led Public Citizen's successful efforts to call for an amendment to overturn Citizens United in Vermont, New Jersey, Illinois, Delaware and Washington state. She offers an update on the current state of the fight to overturn the Supreme Court ruling that opened the floodgates to corporate spending in our elections; offers an explanation as to how the Trump era has effected activism on the issue; details what is involved in adopting such a measure; explains why Bullock's suit in Montana is important, even though IRS disclosures are confidential, and how efforts in Congress (including the House-passed H.R. 1, "For the People" Act) would kick-start the process of restoring American democracy to we, the people.

"We have to protect our democracy from the existential threat that an unaccountable, dictator-loving President poses," says Freechild. "At the same time, we have to show the country the vision that we have as reformers, as pro-democracy people, for a clean government that really truly does represent people, that has public financing in partnership with overturning Citizens United so that there is an alternative to a corporate money system."

Finally, we close today with some listener feedback on the Democrats' internecine debate in the U.S. House on whether to begin an official impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump....or not...

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VelvetRevolution.us co-founder,
expert on issues of election integrity,
and a Commonweal Institute Fellow.

Brad has contributed chapters to these books...


...And is featured in these documentary films...

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